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Boko Haram Teaching Child Soldiers to Rape

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The arid town of Gwoza looked like it was finally going to see rainfall after months of drought, but a devastating attack by Boko Haram turned hope to despair. Armed with machetes and guns, the militants roared into the northeast Nigerian town in January 2015. As they jumped from their vehicles, the group began to burn homes and gather the women and children. Among the young militants was a 15-year-old boy whom we’ll call Ahmed. Months before, Ahmed was abducted from his home in Baga, not long after completing primary school. I met the teenager in an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp at Madinatu, not far away from Maiduguri, the capital of Nigeria’s northeastern Borno state, where I had spent three days meeting with IDPs and listening.

Ahmed told me he was kidnapped along with two of his neighbors from their compound, and taken to the militants stronghold in Sambisa where he was forced to become a soldier. After just two months training with the jihadists, his recruiters brought him on the mission to Gwoza. Well before they set off for the attack, Ahmed’s superiors told the fighters to capture as many women and children as they could, and that they would be allowed to “have fun” when they returned to their base. “At first I didn’t understand what they meant by ‘you are going to have fun’ and nobody thought to explain,” said Ahmed. “Days before we left for Gwoza, they began to show us what they wanted us to do.”

For the next two days, the young boys, most of whom were about Ahmed’s age, watched as their commanders raped women and young girls abducted in earlier raids. The lesson for the boys was clear: They were learning to subdue a struggling victim during sexual assault. “The girls will scream and cry for help, but [the militants] didn’t care,” Ahmed said. “Sometimes they’ll be slapped and threatened with guns if they didn’t cooperate.” While in the act, the jihadists provided specific instructions to the young militants. “They tell us to remember to hold the girl tight on both hands, pinned to the floor,” Ahmed said. “They said we shouldn’t let a woman overpower us.”

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  1. Pingback: Boko Haram Jihadists Teach Boy Soldiers How to Rape Women - New Right News

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